How the 1st Congressional District Candidates Would Reduce the Federal Deficit

Hopefuls looking to unseat incumbent Bobby Rush – and Rush himself – share ideas such as reducing government size, reforming tax code and cracking down on fraud, among other plans.

Economic issues will likely be on the minds of each voter participating in the 2012 primary and general election. What government should cut will also likely be considered.

We asked candidates campaigning for the Democrat and Republican spots in the 1st Illinois Congressional District race what steps they would take to reduce the federal deficit? If it includes tax increases, what taxes? And if it involves federal service cuts, which?

Answers are listed in the order we received them.


The size of the government needs to be reduced and more of the federal dollars should be given to local town, cities and villages and used to help stimulate small businesses.


Reforming the tax code and trimming redundant government programs can help reduce the debt a great deal. Our current tax structure relies heavily on tax breaks. Unfortunately, such a system siphons valuable resources and revenues from the government’s cache.

By eliminating a majority of tax breaks and consolidating the number of brackets, the United States stands to recover billions of dollars in lost revenue and simplify the code. However, capital gains and dividends are currently taxed at too low a rate. The blanket 15 percent tax is too lax on those who have considerable gains. By taxing long-term capital gains and dividends in the same manner as short-term capital gains (which are pegged to income), revenues would rise, and the system would demonstrate fairness.

Moreover, if we eliminate these same breaks for corporations, lower the corporate tax rate, and adopt a territorial tax system, businesses would pay their fair share while remaining competitive.


In cities across the country, residents watch the drastic effects that debt and deficit have had on their communities and economies. Some cuts are necessary. Eliminating redundant levels of bureaucracy that are inefficient and programs that are no longer relevant can save billions of dollars.

Unfortunately, government usually cuts the meat, not the fat. The result is a heavy burden for states, local communities and individuals who are already suffering from today’s ills and wasteful spending on programs that do not work. No sector is immune from the reforms of discretionary and entitlement programs that must occur, before blind and ill-advised cuts are put in place.

Military spending should be subject to a harsh review – but defense reductions can adversely affect local economies and businesses that are dependent on Pentagon contracts. Cut too much and the hemorrhaging will resume, chiseling away at entitlement programs will severely affect communities and families already struggling. For those who are lucky enough to have a paycheck, the current administration wants higher taxes.

Where is the fairness in that?

Vigilance is a vital part of the solution. Cracking down on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security fraud along with stringent reviews of government contracts and grants can ensure that spending and the taxpayers’ dollars are no longer wasted.


The Obama Administration is doing an excellent job of teaming up with members of both parties to cut waste, fraud and frivolous spending; as is recognized in the Executive Order signed in 2010 and 2011. Line by line evaluation, accountability and cuts are necessary and being implemented. This is what citizens want and I agree.


I support President Obama's proposal to repeal the Bush tax cuts for those who earn more than $250,000/yr. I also believe that there will be substantial savings in the military budget as our troops are returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. These proposals, along with steady job growth, will help reduce the deficit.


The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), which required automatic sequestration (or across-the-board cuts to entitlement and non-entitlement program spending) to commence in January 2013 due to the failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (also known as the “Super Committee”) to reduce the budget by $1.5 trillion, have already improved the federal government's fiscal outlook. The BCA requires Congress to cut at least $2.1 trillion in deficit spending from 2012-2021. Despite this initial step, and the resulting pressure this will place on states to fund state education, energy, environment, transportation, and criminal justice programs, the federal government must make efforts to cut more spending as we grapple to contain some of our major cost drivers, including changing demographics and rising health care costs. 

Obviously, the federal deficit can only be reduced if the U.S. government spends less than the revenue it raises. Foreign nations and investors as well as our own home investors who purchase U.S. debt must also remain confident that the US will be able grow the overall economy at a rate exceeding inflation by a healthy margin. The U.S. government must therefore act accordingly to retain and not squander these earned and crucial advantages.

Some measures that I have supported to reduce our nation’s debt include requiring the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate prescription drug prices that are part of Medicare D plans (for up to a $156 billion savings over 10 years). Another area in which the government could curb costs is in the reduction of the Department of Defense’s budget, which is currently so vast that even they do not know how much is being spent. We can also end subsidies to companies and corporations that are sending jobs overseas and that make more than $1 billion.

Candidates Fred Smith, Clifford R. Russell Jr. and Jimmy Lee Tillman II did not respond to Patch’s questionnaire.


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